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Judicial Misconduct

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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 9, 2006 | Lance Pugmire, Times Staff Writer
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Bernard J. Schwartz was censured Thursday by the state Commission on Judicial Performance for statements he made to police during his arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol last year in Pismo Beach. The director of the commission said censure was the panel's most serious punishment short of being removed from the bench. Schwartz, 45, can continue to preside over criminal hearings.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 13, 2010 | By Jack Leonard and Andrew Blankstein, Los Angeles Times
In the end, the move by Swiss authorities to free Roman Polanski did not come down to whether he drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl. Instead, the Swiss government's refusal Monday to extradite the director centered in part on a controversial 1977 backroom meeting that a Los Angeles judge held with the prosecutor and defense attorney on the case. Polanski's lawyers say the judge made it clear at the meeting that he intended to send the director to prison for a 90-day psychiatric test as his full sentence behind bars.
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CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 29, 1998
Re "State Panel Suspends Ventura County Superior Court Judge Robert Bradley," March 21. Well, the state Commission on Judicial Performance has finally decided to at least give the illusion of doing its job by charging Judge Bradley with six counts of misconduct. Why was nothing done after the first count, especially since, according to this article, the "misconduct" included multiple drunk-driving incidents? Judge Bradley served only 20 days in jail after two drunk-driving convictions, repeatedly showing up for work at the courthouse drunk, and threatening violence toward a deputy district attorney.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 31, 2010 | By Andrew Blankstein
The Los Angeles County district attorney's office on Tuesday rejected claims by Roman Polanski's attorneys that the office hid communications between a judge and supervising prosecutors in the director's 1977 sexual assault case. Polanski's lawyers described "communications" that involved Laurence J. Rittenband, the original judge in the case, and two officials at the district attorney's office, Michael Montagna and Stephen Trott. After the discussions, Trott and Montagna then blocked an effort by the prosecutor on the case, Roger Gunson, to have Rittenband removed, according to the 68-page court filing.
NEWS
August 20, 1999 | From a Times Staff Writer
A state watchdog agency dismissed misconduct charges Thursday against Court of Appeal Justice J. Anthony Kline for failing to follow a precedent in a court dissent. "We recognize that appellate jurists deal with legal principles and ideas," said the order by the Commission on Judicial Performance, approved on an 8-1 vote with two abstentions.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
November 17, 1998
The presiding judge of Glendale Municipal Court is expected to rule this week in a judicial misconduct case involving a veteran commissioner who drew complaints that she had overstepped her bounds by jailing dozens of alleged minor traffic offenders on suspicion of perjury. Commissioner Dona Bracke, a former Los Angeles County deputy district attorney who has served on the bench since 1990, has been on paid administrative leave since August.
NEWS
September 17, 1996 | From Associated Press
A Monterey County judge whose hard-line policy on drunken driving has stirred controversy since his election last year was charged with misconduct Monday by the state Commission on Judicial Performance. Municipal Judge Jose Angel Velasquez is accused of violating standards of judicial conduct with his sentencing practices in misdemeanor drunken driving cases, the commission said.
NATIONAL
May 26, 2004 | From Times Wire Services
Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist has named a high-level panel to investigate the federal courts' handling of judicial misconduct, court officials said Tuesday. Rehnquist named the committee with a statement that acknowledged criticism by Congress of judicial handling of ethics issues. Justice Stephen G. Breyer will chair the panel, according to a statement published this week in the newsletter of the federal courts. The committee will hold its first meeting next month in Washington.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
June 24, 2001 | JEAN GUCCIONE and RICHARD WINTON, TIMES STAFF WRITERS
Glendale Municipal Court Commissioner Steven K. Lubell was on the bench when Judge James R. Simpson called and asked to meet with him. A few minutes later, Lubell walked into the judge's chambers and was surprised to find Simpson talking to a political consultant and a defendant who had been in Lubell's courtroom on a traffic ticket. The consultant, who had worked for Simpson, was praising the defendant, Lubell said in a sworn statement describing the May 11, 1999, incident.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 1, 2009 | Harriet Ryan and Jack Leonard
Roman Polanski rushed up to the British Airways counter at LAX in late January 1978 with an American Express card and an urgent desire to get out of town. He bought the last seat on an overnight flight to London and 15 minutes later, he wrote in his autobiography, watched Los Angeles gradually disappear out a jet window. The criminal case that Polanski was fleeing never went away, as his recent arrest in Zurich attests. But how a Los Angeles court would restart the case if Switzerland extradites the film director, 76, is a question complicated by the passage of decades and recent allegations of judicial misconduct.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 29, 2010 | By Carol J. Williams
In his slate-blue suit and Republican-red tie, John Yoo stands out as discordantly formal among the denim- and turtleneck-clad faculty at Boalt Hall School of Law. Never mind how his politics play in what he derides as "the People's Republic of Berkeley." The former Bush administration lawyer who drafted what his critics call the "torture memos" is reviled by many in this liberal East Bay academic enclave, a feeling that is mutual though not, Yoo insists, wholly unpleasant. "I think of myself as being West Berlin during the Cold War, a shining beacon of capitalism and democracy surrounded by a sea of Marxism," Yoo observes, sipping iced tea in the faculty club lounge, a wan smile registering the discomfort of colleagues walking by en route to the bar. He sees his neighbors as the human figures of "a natural history museum of the 1960s," the Telegraph Avenue tableau of a graying, long-haired, pot-smoking counterculture stuck in the ideology's half-century-old heyday.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 19, 2010 | By Andrew Blankstein
Attorneys for Roman Polanski petitioned a state appellate court Thursday to drop the criminal case against the director, citing secret discussions between high-ranking prosecutors and the judge during the director's 1977 case. Polanski's lawyers described "communications" that involved Laurence J. Rittenband, the original judge in the case, and two top officials at the district attorney's office, Michael Montagna and Stephen Trott. After the discussions, Trott and Montagna then blocked an effort by the prosecutor on the case to have Rittenband removed, according to the 68-page court filing.
NATIONAL
January 20, 2010 | By David G. Savage
Something strange happened during the 1993 murder trial of Marcus Wellons. Outwardly, the Supreme Court observed Tuesday, the trial "looked typical." But "there were unusual events going on behind the scenes." For example: The Georgia judge in the case spoke outside court to jurors who had gathered at a local restaurant. And after Wellons was convicted and sentenced to die, jurors presented the female judge with a gift of "chocolate shaped as male genitalia," as the Supreme Court recounted it. If that were not enough, they gave the bailiff a chocolate gift "shaped as female breasts."
BUSINESS
January 7, 2010 | By Stuart Pfeifer
Launching a prosecutorial misconduct defense that was effective for Broadcom Corp. executives, former KB Home Chief Executive Bruce Karatz has accused federal prosecutors of manipulating witnesses in his upcoming option-backdating trial. In a motion filed this week in federal court in Los Angeles, Karatz's attorney said two former KB Home employees who once supported Karatz later changed their accounts after meeting with federal prosecutors and FBI agents. The attorney cited the change as an indication of prosecutorial misconduct.
BUSINESS
December 17, 2009 | By Stuart Pfeifer and E. Scott Reckard
The stunning dismissals of criminal cases against three former Broadcom Corp. executives in the last week focused on what the judge called "shameful" misconduct by prosecutors. But at the core, he had something more telling to say: Prosecutors couldn't prove the defendants did anything wrong. The Broadcom cases, among others, illustrate the struggles the U.S. attorney's office has encountered in prosecuting corporate executives for backdating stock options, a practice that makes it appear that their companies had fewer expenses and greater income than they really had. Among the most elusive elements in such cases, lawyers said, is proof that executives intended to commit a crime by backdating the options and conceal their actions.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
December 11, 2009 | By Jack Leonard
An attorney for Roman Polanski urged a California appeals court panel Thursday to throw out the filmmaker's 1977 child sex case, citing what he called an "astonishing record of misconduct" by the district attorney's office and the judge who originally handled the case. Chad S. Hummel argued that Judge Laurence J. Rittenband improperly discussed with a prosecutor how to punish Polanski and threatened to lock up the director for a longer period if his attorney challenged the judge's decision to return Polanski to prison.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
August 16, 2009 | Carol J. Williams
Attorney Gary Dubin was in a Honolulu hospital, sedated and suffering from depression after the death of his son, when U.S. District Judge Manuel L. Real had him handcuffed and taken to court -- still in his hospital gown -- to answer charges of failing to file tax returns. Real allowed him to send for clothes but refused to postpone the hearing, recalled Dubin, who had to defend himself in a medicated fog without his case files. Judged guilty by Real after a two-day bench trial, Dubin spent 19 1/2 months in federal prison, while his home went into foreclosure and his credit was ruined by identity thieves.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
March 29, 2010 | By Carol J. Williams
In his slate-blue suit and Republican-red tie, John Yoo stands out as discordantly formal among the denim- and turtleneck-clad faculty at Boalt Hall School of Law. Never mind how his politics play in what he derides as "the People's Republic of Berkeley." The former Bush administration lawyer who drafted what his critics call the "torture memos" is reviled by many in this liberal East Bay academic enclave, a feeling that is mutual though not, Yoo insists, wholly unpleasant. "I think of myself as being West Berlin during the Cold War, a shining beacon of capitalism and democracy surrounded by a sea of Marxism," Yoo observes, sipping iced tea in the faculty club lounge, a wan smile registering the discomfort of colleagues walking by en route to the bar. He sees his neighbors as the human figures of "a natural history museum of the 1960s," the Telegraph Avenue tableau of a graying, long-haired, pot-smoking counterculture stuck in the ideology's half-century-old heyday.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
October 1, 2009 | Harriet Ryan and Jack Leonard
Roman Polanski rushed up to the British Airways counter at LAX in late January 1978 with an American Express card and an urgent desire to get out of town. He bought the last seat on an overnight flight to London and 15 minutes later, he wrote in his autobiography, watched Los Angeles gradually disappear out a jet window. The criminal case that Polanski was fleeing never went away, as his recent arrest in Zurich attests. But how a Los Angeles court would restart the case if Switzerland extradites the film director, 76, is a question complicated by the passage of decades and recent allegations of judicial misconduct.
BUSINESS
August 19, 2009 | Tom Petruno
In a blow to the government, the first chief executive found guilty by a jury of backdating stock option grants has had his conviction overturned. Gregory Reyes, former CEO of Brocade Communications Systems Inc. of San Jose, will get a new trial after a federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled that his case was tainted by prosecutorial misconduct. Reyes, 46, was convicted in 2007 of conspiracy and fraud for backdating employee option grants in 2001 and 2002. The practice, widespread particularly in the technology industry, was a way to cherry-pick favorable exercise prices for the options, boosting their value to employees.
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